Ebrington Closure 9

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St James and Ebrington are located in the Cotswold District of Gloucestershire. For this further analysis of DfE and OFSTED data the Review Team focused on primary schools within this Cotswold District.
Summary findings show:
a. Within the Cotswold District there are 44 primary schools. These schools range in size from 23 pupils on roll to 427. The larger schools are almost exclusively situated in urban areas, such as Cirencester. Approximately 86 per cent of the Cotswold District Schools are classified as rural, mainly small with mixed-year classes.

b. Approximately 80 per cent of all schools in the Cotswold District have roll of less than 200 pupils.

c. Over half the schools (23 schools) in the District have less than 100 pupils on roll.

d. There are 1,523 pupils educated in these 23 rural schools. All these schools have mixed-year classes and many are two class schools.

The analysis of the data shows there is no correlation between the effectiveness of schools in the Cotswold District and the number of pupils on the school roll.

The Review Team also analysed data from local authority areas nationally to provide relevant comparisons. The findings from the Gloucestershire data were shown to be reflected nationally. For example, the DfE data and OFSTED reports for schools in North Yorkshire show a similar pattern.
For example:
i. The data shows there are 317 primary schools in North Yorkshire.

ii. Over thirty-seven per cent of these schools (119 schools) have seventy or less pupils on roll. This is the same or less than the number on roll at Ebrington School.

iii. Fifty-eight per cent of these small schools have less than fifty pupils on roll. Indeed, nearly seventeen per cent had below 30 pupils on roll.

iv. A random sample of OFSTED reports representing 25 per cent of these small schools (30 schools) shows:
a. The numbers on roll for the sample of schools ranged from 8 to 70 pupils;
b. These small schools were educating 1,251 pupils;
c. OFSTED reports show that
i. One (1) school was ‘requiring improvement’.
ii. Sixteen (16) schools were judged ‘good’.
iii. Nine (9) schools were judged ‘good with outstanding features’.
iv. Four (4) schools were judged outstanding.
v. The one school ‘requiring improvement’ had a new headteacher and OFSTED stated
...the recently appointed headteacher has already had a very significant impact on improving the school.
(OFSTED, 2015)
d. The numbers of pupils on roll of the schools judged ‘outstanding’ were
41, 52, 45 and 39. These were all two class schools.
e. The school with 8 pupils on roll was judged by OFSTED to be ‘good with outstanding features’. OFSTED stated that the headteacher of this school had:
...successful drive, showed clear sighted leadership and leads the school with passion and quiet determination. (OFSTED, 2014)

The data shows that nationally there are 2,144 state-funded primary schools educating 145,212 pupils in England with less than one hundred pupils on roll. Most of these schools are in rural areas.
(School Census, January, 2015)

The findings show that in recent years small schools have joined with other schools in formal or informal partnerships and Federations. OFSTED reports show that these groups of schools often have one executive headteacher and one governing body. Each school maintains it own identity but benefits from the experience of a larger professional staff and an effective executive headteacher.

Examples of such partnerships can be found nationally. Examples reviewed by the Team included those in Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Cornwall and North Yorkshire. Some groupings of primary schools include a secondary school. Such partnerships and Federations were judged to raise the achievement of the pupils and secure the future of small rural schools.